He first heard about her from the wife of his friend, who was the minister of Barbara’s church.
“She said, ‘There’s a woman in my church who is single, and you’re single and we think you would really hit it off,'” says Daniel, then minister of a Methodist church in Hazen.
She gave Daniel Barbara’s phone number and suggested he call her.
Barbara was a kindergarten teacher and a minister friend of his had a daughter in the class next door to hers.
“He noticed Barbara as well, and independent of my other friend, he goes, ‘There’s this teacher over at Taylor Elementary…,'” he says.
A week or so later, the woman who gave Daniel Barbara’s phone number asked if he had called her, which was the encouragement he needed to do just that.
He invited her to Cotham’s in Scott for hubcap burgers and Mississippi mud pie.
“That would give us a little drive from where she lived,” he explains.
He had seen a picture of Barbara comically photobombing a shot of his friend at a church picnic, and recognized her when she opened the door.
“She goes, ‘Are you Daniel?'” he says, to which he replied in the affirmative. “She said, ‘OK, great. Come on in and I’ll tell you why I asked you if you were Daniel.’ And she proceeded to tell me the funniest story, one of the funniest I’ve ever heard, and it’s a funny one on herself.”
She regaled him with a tale of opening the door for another blind date sometime before, inviting a fellow inside to sit on her couch and look at movie listings. She had been perplexed by his silent stare and stared back, waiting for him to speak. When he did, it was to ask if she knew him.
That man wasn’t, she learned, her blind date. He was a funeral home worker who had happened to stop by at the exact time she had expected her date to ask directions to a home in the neighborhood where someone had died.
“He went out and I slammed the door and laughed and laughed,” Barbara says.
Her sense of humor quickly became one of the things he loved about her. As he drove home from their first date, he thought he might marry her someday.
“That just kind of popped into my head,” he says. “I had expected a kindergarten teacher to be kind of sentimental, but she took a total intellectual approach and I was very impressive in conversation. I was impressed by how smart she was, how funny she was and how pretty she was.”
She was equally impressed by him.
“He’s a big reader, and I think one of the things that impressed me most that first night about him was that he could speak on any topic — current events, politics, things that happened 20 years ago …” she says. “I think he has a photographic memory. I don’t know if I had ever met anybody who could speak on any subject like he did, and he still does.”
Their first date was in February 1992. He proposed around Easter that year.
He gave her an engagement ring on their way to dinner one night.
“We just kind of thought the same, that we were going to get married and when,” he says. “We just kind of both were assuming that we were going to get married because we loved each other.”
Their rehearsal dinner was at Eden Park Country Club in Pine Bluff, and they had the opportunity to choose the recipes for the menu.
“Barbara is a fabulous, almost gourmet, cook,” he says.
They exchanged their vows on Nov. 7, 1992, at Hawley Methodist Church in Pine Bluff.
There was a children’s court, with six little flower girls, and there were six bridesmaids and six groomsmen as well. College friends provided music.
The Kirkpatricks spent their wedding night at the Capital Hotel, just after Bill Clinton was elected president. They checked in the day Clinton’s supporters checked out, and they spotted then Vice President-elect Al Gore’s itinerary on the counter when they arrived.
“We thought that was kind of cool, that we were in the hotel where part of his party was,” Daniel says.
They honeymooned in Eureka Springs, and returned there to celebrate anniversaries in the early years of their marriage.
The Kirkpatricks live in Sheridan. Barbara commutes to Little Rock for her job as an assistant principal in the Little Rock School District and Daniel commutes to Nashville (Howard County), where he pastors two Methodist churches.
They have two children — Matthew, who just finished his master’s degree in international comparative global history at Georgetown University in Washington, and Catherine, who will start medical school and a Ph.D. research program at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock this fall.
When Daniel asked Barbara to marry him, she asked if he thought she would be a good minister’s wife.
“She has always been amazing, in every church we’ve been to,” he says.
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The first time I saw my future spouse:
She says: “I asked if he really was Daniel.”
He says: “I had seen a photograph of her before but when I saw her at her front door I just thought about how beautiful she was — and how funny.”
On our wedding day:
She says: “I was very happy. I got to see my friends and family and it was a great day.”
He says: “Barbara looked like a model, but in the picture they took of her before our wedding she had a Diet Coke with her white dress. I was very nervous and couldn’t recall our vows, even though I was a minister and said them all the time.”
My advice for a long happy marriage:
She says: “Remember that you’re both human and that you’re not perfect. Every day you have to start over and you have to remember that.”
He says: “Learn to compromise, and respect each other. I think both of those go a long way. Put your spouse’s needs ahead of your own.”
Barbara Kirkpatrick had been on several one-and-done blind dates before she met the man who would be her husband, Daniel. She had been reluctant to date him because she couldn’t imagine herself on a date with a minister. They both knew after their first date that they were meant to be together. “After our first date, I had this strong impression we were going to get married,” Daniel says.
(Special to the Democrat-Gazette)